In a cruel twist of fate, the loss of Shane Warne is not the first of its kind his beloved children and wider circle of friends have experienced.
Shane Warne’s sudden death from a heart attack has left Australians across the country and cricket fans around the world in a state of complete shock.
But in a cruel twist of fate, the untimely loss is not the first of its kind his beloved children and wider circle of friends have experienced.
Fifteen years ago, the Warnes’ tight-knit community in Melbourne’s affluent Brighton was left reeling when telco tycoon John Ilhan passed away in eerily similar circumstances.
Ilhan had found fame and success as the self-made founder of Crazy John’s mobile phone retail chain which at its peak had more than 600 stores across Australia.
The 42 year old, who in 2003 became the richest Australian under 40, dropped dead due to a heart condition while on a morning walk near his beachfront home.
In the many years since, the two families have remained close associates, with Warne’s daughter, Brooke, and Ilhan’s eldest, Yasmin, lifelong friends.
The pair, who are both 24 and grew up streets apart, have spent years sharing happy snaps on social media, enjoying everything from holidays to family dinners.
Their wider families are now again united by tragedy but have publicly supported each other for decades.
John Ilhan was among The Shane Warne Foundation’s founding board members; in return, the cricket champ was an ambassador for the Ilhans’ Australian Food Allergy Foundation.
Warne once explained the close friendship in an interview for the book John Ilhan: A Crazy Life, saying the pair met through their daughters and their joint willingness to give back.
“Feeling very awkward, I rang him out of the blue after getting his number from former St Kilda President Rod Butters. John couldn’t have been more welcoming or delightful to talk to,” Warne said.
“After that, we became good friends. His daughter Yasmin and my daughter Brooke attend the same school and became best friends, so we were always dropping kids of at each other’s houses.
“We’d often talk about business and a bit about what was happening in his company and so forth, but we’d also just talk a lot as two fathers of girls who were growing up too fast and we’d get a chuckle out of that.”
Ilhan’s death, in a similar light to Warne’s, shocked Melbourne’s business community in 2007 due to his age, success and apparent good health.
The father of four, who also left behind wife Patricia, was a local success story having immigrated from Turkey as a child before growing up in Broadmeadows in the city’s north.
His natural aptitude and drive for success saw him transform a single phone shop in Brunswick in 1991 to a business that banked $310m in 2007, the year of his death.
“The first five years of my business life … was a blur, because I spent all day, all night in the shop, worrying about every cent. I used to sleep in the store on the floor,’’ he once said.
Friend and fellow “Broady boy” Eddie McGuire – who was raised in the same working-class suburb – said at the time Mr Ilhan’s enthusiasm was unparalleled.
“He was a man with a tremendous heart and unfortunately that heart gave way,” he said.
Brooke, then aged 11, and both of her parents attended Ilhan’s public memorial at the Melbourne Convention Centre in December 2007.
In the years since his passing, the Warnes have continued to support their friends both publicly and behind the scenes as they grappled with the unparalleled loss.
Similarly, Warne’s service will be held at the MCG in the coming weeks after his death in a Thai villa on March 4.
Thousands are expected to be in attendance including, most likely, friends who know his family’s pain all too well.